When is a Phone Call Better Than Email?

Posted on 1st June 2017 in Business

Written by James Marren

“I just called to say I love you.” Stevie Wonder understands the power of picking up the phone to say something important. However, who here has a full inbox with new messages flooding in by the hour? We live online and keeping in touch via Facebook or LinkedIn, instead of meeting face to face, is now a social norm. However, here at FUTRLI we are fans of meeting up, jumping on a video call or picking up the phone. This blog summarises when we think a call is more appropriate than email.

1. When you’re selling

The Sales Institute, Grant Cardone and Hubspot all agree on one thing – you need to pick up the phone! It’s much harder to read the tone of your buyer via email and you have no opportunity to truly engage them on a human level and build trust. Professor Albert Mehrabian’s communications model shows us that people communicate: 7% with words, 38% with paralinguistic (how words are said), and 55% with facial expressions or body language. Another key consideration is that many of today’s key decision makers grew up before the prevalence of email and naturally respond and engage better with a quick telephone call.

If you have an outbound sales team, the chances are that you need them on the phone. As a business, this opens up a host of issues you need to manage. How many calls are being made per day? What trends can you see per week or month? What’s the average conversation time? Does a top performer spend more or less time on calls? And, how do you provide appropriate training if you’re only listening to one side of the conversation?

Natterbox is a great example of a business that proves that phone calls are long from dead. They integrate a complete telephony solution, including recordings and analytics, into Salesforce CRM. It’s a service that helped grow the brand Groupon to its dizzying heights today. Our customer Xref also rely on this telephony service (find out how they use FUTRLI here).

2. When you expect lots of questions

In our team, we are constantly researching for articles and case studies and a quick call allows both parties to address all questions in their entirety and deal with any misunderstanding there and then. It is, however, important to takes notes to avoid losing track of what’s been asked and to not forget what’s been discussed. It is perhaps optimum in these instances to combine a phone conversation with a short follow-up email, which ensures both parties are left on the same page and have something concrete to refer back to.

3. When you need to explain something complicated

Despite technological progress, there are still good reasons why companies continue to employ telephone support. In fact, it is often because of leaps in technology and access to greater functionality for consumers that the scope for more complex support requests increases. While written instructions can be helpful, there are times when having someone talk you through a series of complicated steps is far more effective.

Email is fantastic for getting to the point and keeping things focused on the task at hand, however, a conversation affords an opportunity to gain a deeper context for what is being discussed. It is, however, important for your efficiency not to let a conversation stray too far off track, and you must resolve yourself to steer it back on course whenever necessary.

You know when you need to upgrade your phone. What about your business forecasting?

4. When an apology is necessary

It can be tough to accept and admit when you’re wrong. Verbalising this fact can be even tougher, particularly when you could just ping over an email or text message and avoid the awkward confrontation. However, it’s in large part for this reason that an apology via telephone carries so much more weight. It gives the opportunity to hear the remorse and sincerity in the voice rather than the somewhat cold written alternative.

However, if you’re nervous about saying the wrong thing due to pressure, then prepare by writing down some notes beforehand. This can help you formulate what it is you really want to say and decrease the risk of you fumbling your words. The key is to focus on sounding natural and genuine and not that you’re reading verbatim from a script.

5. When you’ve taken too long to reply

With email overload now a widespread epidemic, the chances of you missing an important message due to a flooded inbox at some point in time are fairly high. Like the point made above, making the effort to call up to rectify the oversight gives you the opportunity to really express your regret in a genuine way and it exudes confidence and adds veracity to the fact that you weren’t deliberately avoiding the situation/person. Treating them as a priority in this way rather than as part of some endless to-do list can turn the person’s perception of the situation and you around.

Read our 7 top tips to master an overflowing email inbox

6. When it’s urgent

When life happens and something not so pleasant is thrown in your path which requires you to step back from certain responsibilities, it’s much better to pick up the phone and have a real conversation. It’s far easier to get across the importance of a situation when you can convey the intonation of your voice and is far more likely to generate empathy and understanding in the other person.

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